We're gonna try avoiding the "C" , "P" and "L" words in this, okay? Okay.
What can I say about 2020 that hasn't already been said before? An unprecedented (ugh) year, a year like no other, a year where the word "normal" lost its meaning entirely.
Sitting here writing my yearly reflection piece (a practice I started last year), it's hard to even recall everything this year threw at us. It's safe to assume that humanity is going to be processing 2020 and dealing with its far reaching ramifications for the foreseeable future.
The start of 2020 was a very strange time for me. I was dealing with all kinds of uncomfortable emotions. My best friend had just died, India was seeing widespread protests against an unconstitutional citizenship law, ring-wing goons were attacking public universities where some of my dear friends were studying and New Delhi would soon be seeing a gruesome pogrom. All this and we haven't even hit March, when an even bigger crisis would hit the country — the thing which must not be named.
Clearly, a highly turbulent start to the year. I remember not really being in the proper headspace to plan the year like I usually like to. I pushed through somehow though and did write down some things I wanted to do this year. It actually helped me a lot to put these things down and try to look forward, get some optimism running through my veins.
I want to take use this piece as a way to look back at how I did. High-key excited to laugh my butt off at some of these given I when I wrote them.
Let's do this!
How did I do this year?
Before looking back at my list of goals, an important detail/update: 2020 was the year I switched jobs for the first time. I started the year working at Meraki, where I'd been since late 2017 and switched to working at Fueled (one of my dream workplaces) in September of this year. I documented my headspace around this whole job switch situation in blog posts in case you're interested:
This switch was obviously a massive change, a change I hadn't anticipated when I planned the year. I went from being a software developer doing mobile development, full-stack development, interface and marketing design at Meraki to doing full-time mobile (Android) engineering at Fueled.
This change certainly had an effect on how I approached my goals through the year. I'll talk about how exactly that went down while looking at individual goals. Let's get into it!
Ship 1 Android app ✅
I just about did this. It wasn't quite one whole app but partial efforts across something we were working on at Meraki and my first project at Fueled. The app I was working on at Meraki was impacted by…the happening in the world so I sadly never quite got to see it being used at scale. The app I worked on in the last two months at Fueled though is being used by a whole bunch of users as we speak! Woop!
Ship 1 React app ✅
The reason behind having this as a goal was so I finish reading a book I'd picked up to study react. I didn't finish the book this year but I did get to build a mini-app at Meraki in my last few months there. The app was a certificate builder that took inputs as a form and then generated a PDF certificate that could be shared on WhatsApp. This was lots of fun to make and ended up being a success as well. React is really fun to use and I want to use it for more and more things in the coming year!
Write 4 technical blog posts ⚠️
I just had a look and I wrote four things in 2020: the two posts about switching jobs and two technical posts. I'm pretty satisfied with this actually. The posts I wrote were fun to write and one of them has been read by over 1500 people according to my Medium statistics. I also packaged these two posts into a series called "Neat Examples" which is definitely something I want to write more for next year. Here are links to the two posts if you want to read:
Volunteer-based (engineering) work at Meraki ❌
This one's a dud, unfortunately. Work at Meraki changed drastically because of the…massive illness in the world and I eventually transitioned out. As a result, this didn't really come to fruition, sadly.
Go on at least 12 dates ⚠️
HAHAHAHAHA! What's a date? Restaurants? Movie halls? Shoes? PANTS?
Jokes aside, there were a lot of virtual dates through the year with some wonderful people. We saw movies (using Netflix party) and virtual concerts (which are an accessibility blessing for wheelchair users like me!) — it was pretty darn good! More please!
Read at least 15 books ❌
Uh-oh, I couldn't get this done. I'm at 11 books currently and am going to fail my Goodreads challenge for this year. But, that's okay. The reason I was unable to complete this target this year is because I barely read in the first half of 2020. Work load from January to July was a lot and time for reading was very minimal. I don't have any issues with this though. The work we did during this time at Meraki was of utmost importance and I'm proud of what we achieved.
From the 11 books I did read this year, my favorite is Elif Shafak's How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division. She wrote it as a memoir in 2020 itself and I am a big fan of her writing style — it feels like a giant hug, not gonna lie. Check it out if you're interested!
Produce S2 of Unbox ❌
This one I am pretty bummed about. Unbox is a podcast I started in 2019. I did one full season for it and wanted to do the next season this year. I was stifled by the bats of the world who made inviting people over to record episodes impossible. I tried to think of a way to do the podcast over Discord or Zoom but didn't really pull it off eventually.
I do want to get back to Unbox though because I really enjoy producing it. Maybe 2021 is the year, let's see!
Redo personal space ⚠️
I'm almost there. Made huge strides in this department. I have a separate reading and work table now. I have a bunch of really nice ideas about how I want my space to look. I even learned a bit of SketchUp and made a mockup of my room using it so I could design my space better — ha!
This is a roll-over goal for next year. I'm so excited to see the final version!
Learn motion graphics (using After Effects) ❌
This is a weird one. I stuck this goal in for this year for no solid reason really. I've been wanting to level up my video making skills for a while now and this goal fit that bucket and that's why I added it in. But, did not really work on this whatsoever. This may not be a priority going forward as I'm spending more energy in getting better at music production things and video making will probably take a backseat because of that.
Continue 16–8 IF ✅
Experiment with longer fasts ❌
One year of 16–8 IF — yaaaaas! It's honestly amazing. I feel so much better when I fast as part of my schedule. It's become second nature now. I initially used Zero to track my fasts but I don't need to do that anymore. I haven't really lost weight by doing IF, but I do feel healthier and have been able to maintain my weight — which is a personal win for me!
As for longer fasts, the maximum I've done is 19 hour fast and that was by accident really. It wasn't intended. I still do want to experiment with longer fasts in the future as I do believe its pretty doable for me given my experience this year.
Cut Down Sugar; Eat less desserts ✅
If I was writing this post in October, I would have failed on this goal. As of December 2020, my dessert intake has become super low. I don't know how this happened but I'm kind of done with eating sweet things just for the sake of their good taste.
I used to be pretty big on desserts but something clicked in me recently that makes me feel like the ROI on eating desserts just isn't worth it. I feel like I want to practice mindfulness with my relationship with desserts (?) and only consume them rarely. This is still a pretty new thing for me so I'm curious to see how this habit evolves over the coming years.
Rethink Keto ⚠️
At the start of 2020, I wanted to get back to a ketogenic diet at some point in 2020. I did give it a thought during the year but never really got back to the diet itself. Humanity collectively stuck at home made easy access to keto-friendly food items a tough ask. This was another reason why getting back to the diet was difficult. At this point, I'm not sure if I want to experiment with Keto again. I might try more strict calorie counting as a way to lose weight before I reconsider Keto.
XL to L ❌
Shirt size is still the same. This was a year of maintenance rather than weight loss. I'm a little bummed out about this not gonna lie. I feel like there were opportunities through the year for me to do better at this goal but I didn't. I need to plan something out properly to attack this goal next year.
Watch 26 films (one every other week) ❌
14/26 is how I did this year. Sheesh! Worse than 2019's score of a respectable 20 films. My favorite out of the bunch was Pixar's Soul — I absolutely loved it!
I feel like I would have done better at this goal if I hadn't lost time in the first six months of this year. I have this films goal as part of my goals for the year because I'm someone who likes movies and wants to watch more of them but I almost always end up spending more time watching YouTube rather than good quality cinema.
Next year, I'm going to succeed at this goal. Just you wait.
Produce 6 music covers ❌
3/6 covers (barely). A lot of unfinished work in the pipeline :(
IG Shit-posting ✅
Develop Hand Independence (Piano) ⚠️
This is again one of those things that you can't really do in a year. It's a continuous journey — a journey I am well and truly on now. I'm started taking piano lessons this year and they are so much fun. I look forward to them every week!
There was a lot of other things that happened this year that lie outside the realm of the goals I'd set up for the year. I developed some new hobbies and interests. This piece might not be the best place to go into details for these but here's a small rundown of some of them:
Custom Mechanical Keyboards (RIP wallet)
The G.T.D System (Things 3 is how I organize life now)
Systems for Organizing Digital Information
Digital Note Taking (Evernote ❤️)
Building Online Communities
Writing (a newsletter might be on the cards, friends)
Dungeons & Dragons (Yes!)
Type Design (I want to make my own typeface one day!)
I can't wait to learn, experiment more with this stuff. Lots to dig into in 2021!
2020 was a decent year for me. I felt like I'd crumble when it began but I think I did okay for the most part. Having a loving family and set of friends and mentors (you all know who you are!) gave me a lot of strength.
That said, it goes without saying that the pain and suffering in the world around us is not lost on me. People went through a lot this year. All of us have a part to play in the coming years in rebuilding this world we live in. Inequalities around us are rampant, we all need to love a little more, love a little harder. The climate crisis is happening right now and we have to fight that fight together as well.
Keep fighting the good fight is something I like saying. I'm gonna continue to do that in 2021 to the best of my ability, and I hope you do the same.
In closing, I want to leave you with some words by Elif Shafak. These words at the end to her book have stayed with me every since I read them. I find myself ruminating over them ever so often. While I get to thinking beyond 2020, heading into the next year, I'm going to be relying a lot on the energy these words radiate.
Do not be afraid of complexity.
Be afraid of people who promise an easy shortcut for simplicity.
Nor should you be afraid of emotions. Whether is is angst or anger or hurt or sadness or loneliness…As human beings — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, geography — we are emotional creations, even those of us who like to pretend not to be, especially them. Analyze, understand and reflect upon where negative emotions come from, embrace them candidly, but also notice if and when they become repetitive, restrictive, ritualistic, and destructive.
We have all the tools to build our societies anew, reform our ways of thinking, fix the inequalities and end the discrimination, and choose earnest wisdom over snippets of information, choose empathy over hatred, choose humanism over tribalism, yet we don't have much time or room for error while we are losing our planet, our only home. After the pandemic, we won't go back to the way things were before. And we shouldn't.
‘What we call the beginning is often the end…The end is where we start from'.